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Social Security recipients embrace electronic payments, give high marks to Treasury-recommended prepaid card

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Updated: 12/13/2012 12:34 pm

(BPT) - If you receive one of the 6 million paper checks for your monthly Social Security or other federal benefit, the time has come to switch to the safety and convenience of electronic payments.

With less than one year until the March 1, 2013, deadline for all federal benefit recipients to switch from paper checks to electronic payments, a new U.S. Department of the Treasury study has found overwhelming support for its recommended Direct Express(R) Debit MasterCard(R) card. According to a cardholder survey, 95 percent of individuals who use the Direct Express(R) card to receive monthly Social Security payments are satisfied with the card, and 93 percent also report they are likely to recommend the card to others.

"We hope that hearing about the extremely high satisfaction with the Direct Express(R) card will encourage check recipients to make the switch to the card or direct deposit as soon as possible," says David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service. "This card helps senior citizens, people with disabilities and others who lack access to traditional banking services to pay bills, withdraw cash and make purchases without worrying about their paper checks being lost or stolen or paying check-cashing fees."

Easy and safe to use

Introduced in June 2008, the Direct Express(R) card has helped more than 3 million Americans to safely and easily access their federal benefit payments. The card, which can be used with no or low fees, provides a more convenient way for all Americans to access their federal benefits, while also improving government efficiency and delivering more than $1 billion in savings. Federal benefit recipients also can choose to have their benefit payments deposited directly into their bank or credit union account.

The Treasury Department published a final rule in December 2010 to gradually eliminate paper checks for federal benefit payments.

Since May 1, 2011, anyone applying for new federal benefits, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits and other non-tax payments, have had to choose direct deposit or a Direct Express(R) card when they sign up for the benefit. For those who began receiving benefits earlier, March 1, 2013 is the final deadline, and all remaining federal benefit check recipients must start receiving their money electronically.

Learn more about electronic payments

The Treasury Department's Go Direct(R) public education campaign is working with more than 1,800 partner organizations nationwide to spread the message about the electronic payment rule and to educate federal benefit recipients about their options. The campaign recently introduced a new public service announcement as well as a series of educational videos and print materials that explain how electronic payments work and how to use the Direct Express(R) card. The videos and materials are available on the Go Direct campaign website at www.GoDirect.org.

Make the switch today

Federal benefit recipients can switch to electronic payments online at www.GoDirect.org or through the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center toll-free at 1-800-333-1795. It's free to switch and takes less than 10 minutes.

Go paperless today and enjoy electronic benefits for many years to come.

The preceding information has been provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service.

The cardholder survey was conducted by KRC Research and commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide on behalf of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service.

The Go Direct(R) campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Direct Express(R) logo, Go Direct(R) and Direct Express(R) are registered service marks, and the Go Direct(SM) logo is a service mark, of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Direct Express(R) Debit MasterCard(R) card is issued by Comerica Bank, pursuant to a license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard(R) and the MasterCard(R) Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.

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